I am at Milwaukee this weekend and enjoying myself greatly. Decided to get my 500 program filled up with autographs so I systematically went through all the shorter lines and did pretty well for myself. I got to Graham Rahal and I said to him, “Man we need your dad back here soon!”
Graham responded “Gotta find some sponsorship”. Yeah, I hear you Graham, there’s too many guys on the sideline right now. Plenty of people scraped together enough to get to Indy, but after that, it’s a little bit like scaling Mt Everest to get enough sponsorship to run the whole season.
Sometimes it is good to take inspiration from some other sources. I have a Mini Season Ticket package for the Indiana Pacers and have had them for years, going back to being a grad school student with little dough. Somewhere along the line the NBA figured out that while a pair of single game tickets might be $40 and affordable, an entire season ticket package is $1640 and prices lots of people out of the market. 15 years later, at a much more advanced stage of my career, I still balk at that amount. Fortunately, the Pacers offer mini season ticket Packages and I get 11 games for $440. An amount easily enough to cough up.
I bounced this idea off of Kevin Lee and Curt Cavin on Trackside a month or so ago, but thought I would flesh it out a bit more here. Why don’t teams or drivers hunting for sponsorship do more to put together partial season packages for potential sponsors? Some do, and while the exact combination of races seem logical for some of the drivers. They usually don’t have any logic, rhyme or reason from a sponsorship perspective. Other than the Canadian Races, does Tagliani’s combination of races make any sense??? Likewise, Milka drives all the big ovals but does that get her sponsors the best opportunity for exposure?
Often drivers and teams look for places where they are likely to do well. Makes sense from a driver perspective, but honestly, teams and drivers in this situation are rarely in a position to win. Sponsors supporting these efforts probably know they aren’t getting to the winners circle but they want their name on the car seen by as many people as possible. That means either selecting a bundle of races with either the largest possible attendance or television audience.
I am not sure what group of races constitutes the largest set of attended races, but it is easy to identify the set of races with the largest viewership. Those would be the five ABC races. I love the coverage that Versus has been giving us. But let’s be real, right now those broadcasts are reaching a small hard core audience. The ABC broadcasts have a much better potential to suck in a larger casual audience. Larger audience = More interest for a potential sponsor.
The ABC schedule is strung together within a very condensed timeframe. Starting with Indy in May, including Milwaukee, Iowa, Watkins Glen it finishes up at Toronto July 12. Two months to keep a crew together, and build momentum from race to race. Two months of minimal overlap with the stick and ball sports other than Baseball. Two months that end in time for a part time sponsor to think about a full time sponsorship for the next year.
Putting together a mini season sponsorship opportunity based around the ABC races just makes sense. Sense for a sponsor looking for the largest viewing audience. Sense for the one car team trying to stretch to two. Sense for an experienced driver trying to keep engaged in the series. Sense for the Lights driver looking to stretch their legs and get a taste of the big times.
We are heading into the planning season for sponsorships. Hopefully our teams and drivers can make the most of the broadcast opportunities they have to offer a sponsor.